As if ruining your credit rating weren’t enough, defaulting
on your bill from Rent-A-Center might also get you a few broken fingers. The
company pursued such a scorched-earth collection policy in Washington that the
Attorney General’s office stepped in to protect consumers unfortunate enough to
fall even a day behind in payments to the rent-to-own furniture firm.
A Federal Way woman said a company employee visited her
house and threatened to have her arrested in front of her grandson. An Everett
woman said company employees harassed her 11-year-old autistic daughter and
young babysitters. In another case, a company official seeking payment claimed
to be a King County police officer.
The rent-to-own firm denied any wrongdoing,
but settled for $243,000 in attorney’s fees and $100,000 to monitor compliance
with an order restricting many of its abusive practices, including violence and
calling customers more than six times a week.